World War I and Internationalism Background Information


The Dawn of Dreams:

The U.S. (as well as the rest of the industrialized world) expected progress with science and technology advances to produce more affluence (success in earning a better standard of living), as well as peace and brotherhood. However, unions still pushed government for more support, women still pushed for the right to vote, blacks were still looking for ways to keep their rights given in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments that have been suppressed since 1877. The strong lesson to learn about human nature is that it changes slowly, if at all. In Europe, many thought that everlasting peace was at hand. Increased communication, fear of socialist revolutions, resistance to taxpayers, and market competition all forced the world powers to the point of being unwilling to make war. However, two factors obscurred reality. First, in recent wars, there was overwhelming pointing to successive rather than looking at the massive losses of modern warfare. Second, the belief that technology and idealistic thinking would keep from war. British writer Norman Angell wrote a book in 1909, Europe's Optical Illusion, better known by its 1910 reissued title, The Great Illusion, contended that the industrialized nations were losing the "psychological impulse to war." However, almost at the same time, a former German chief of staff, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, wrote an article with a very different conclusion, suggesting that in the near future four powers - Britain, France, Russia, and Italy - would combine for a "concentrated attack" on Germany. Schlieffen prepared a detailed battle plan for a possible two-front war with these nations. Overall, as some prophesied peace, others were preparing for war.

Marvels in the Earth and Skies:

Openness of the American system and innovation that had come from generations of farmers and mechanics brought technological breakthroughs and moved the U.S. past Europe. Innovators had been looking to build an automobile. The internal combustion engine as well as other technologies were being experimented with for an automobile. Charles and Frank Duryea had built the Duryea Power Wagon, America's first car, the early 1900s saw Ransom E. Olds lead the industry with his Oldsmobile. The Stanley Brothers developed a car that ran on steam, called the Stanley Steamer. Several others had been working on producing the automobile in the U.S. and Europe.

Henry Ford would be the man who revolutionized the auto industry. He was an electrical mechanic with Edison Electric in the 1890s and read manuals on the new internal combustion engine. By 1896, he thought of ways to use it on a carriage as others had done. He welded a four-cycle engine to a carriage frame and called it a quadricycle. It was barely bigger than a child's red wagon and had a single seat. Ford looked beyond the horseless carriage to a mobile society, while others scoffed at him - Woodrow Wilson called the car a "new symbol of wealth's arrogance," and when Ford went for a loan, the president of Michigan Savings Bank said "the horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad." Ford made two attempts at a car company that failed, but he kept trying (didn't looking for government bailouts or help). His third attempt resulted in the successful Ford Motor Company. Ford mass produced the automobile using the assembly line process. His plants mass-produced 8 different models, but when he lost money on some of them, he focused on one - the Model T, or Tin Lizzie. Ford could emphasize lower cost by mass producing one car. He said that he wanted to make it affordable for everyone and claimed that each dollar he chopped off the price sold another thousand cars. His twist to Eli Whitney's mass-production techniques came when he used electric power at his new Highland Plant facility to move the cars along the assembly line from one station to another. This new idea cut time and waste. Ford paid his workers well with a $5 a day wage partly to prevent unionization and partly to get the best work force in Michigan. The pay was nearly double of his competitors and he still reduced the price from $850 to $345. Ford's personal life was more complex as he spent millions collecting and preserving historical artifacts and was also an internationalist and financed a "peace ship" in 1915 to go to Germany and tell the Kaiser to call of the war. His anti-Semitism was well known and he even financed an anti-Jewish newspaper in Detroit.

The other major revolution in transportation took a major step into the air in Kitty Hawk, NC when the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur Wright) built and flew the first airplane in 1903. They were bicycle workers in Dayton, OH. The first flight was 12 seconds and went 120 feet. The government funded program under the direction of Samuel P. Langley failed. In 1909, the army gave the Wright Brothers $30,000 per machine.

Progressive Reformers:

In the movements for reform in the late 1800s, many adopted a more formal liturgical stance aligned with traditional churches or joined the growing group of secularists. A Welsh revival came to America in 1905 and in1906 a church in Los Angeles at Azusa Street, Elder William Seymour began praying with local members and Azusa Christians began to speak in other tongues - biblical event when the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and speak a language they didn't know. Crowds began to gather and prayer services were going on 24 hours a day. Blacks took part with whites. Women also took party in some leadership roles. The movement spread and the church was growing. Eventually, divisions and schisms were would take place, but the Azusa St. revival gave birth to the modern Pentecostal movement and set the stage for dozens of charismatic denominations in the U.S.

The Social Gospel was a larger movement that sprang up from Protestant ministers who emphasized social justice over perfecting the inner-man. It was started by Washington Gladden, Walter Raushenbusch, and Kansan Charles Sheldon, among others. Most Social Gospelers went end up getting political and endorsed a minimum wage, child labor laws, a redistribution of wealth (Social Gospel had some who wanted to use the Church to advance socialism - not the role of the church), and embraced government regulation of business. To do so, many (though certainly not all) Social Gospelers abandoned claims about scripture's literal accuracy and instead viewed the Bible as a moral guidebook, but no more than that, rather than the law of God.

Secularist reformers also had influence and in the first decade of the 1900s, Progressives found support in both parties, women, health and safety laws, and the movement for prohibition of alcohol. Individual states began many Progressive ideas - direct election of judges, initiative (people vote and propose legislation), referendum (people vote for passage of legislation), and recall (voters can remove an elected official). The direct primary became part of elections in which the people from each party vote and elect the nominee that will run for elected office. Finally, the 17th amendment to the Constitution provided for the direct election of Senators rather than state legislators choosing the U.S. Senators from their states. Secret ballots were being used more, which undercut the power bosses had by limiting vote buying and by preventing illiterate citizens from voting - use to be able to take a color card to show the party preference, but now had to read the ballot.

Organized crime was around political machines. Each ethnic group had its own mob, though the Italian mafia was most notorious. Corruption filtered down to police departments. Progressive era reformers saw social problems such as alcohol and prostitution as their most valuable weapon. Some church groups pointed out that there was a wide gap between education and morality and that secular knowledge didn't equal spiritual wisdom. Progressives saw education as the answer, not Christianity and therefore reformers silenced their opponents with ridicule and embarrassment. Jane Addams (Hull House) believed all cities should conform to Progressive ideals regarding living spaces ("clean" and not too crowded), personal behavior (no alcohol, prostitution, gambling, and other vices), and civil equality (women vote and be educated). Progressives wanted to impose this type of standard of living. However, social activists needed more than just good intentions - they needed an impression of expertise and therefore created a new subject - Social Sciences for the scientific explanations of human behavior. Thorsten Veblen wrote A Theory of the Leisure Class (1879), which was an anti-business book, which he suggests a new economic system run by highly trained engineers and also about his theory of conspicuous consumption saying that one person's consumption decreases someone else's. Progressives inserted their views into public education as part of the social hygiene movement. After all, who would oppose cleanliness and good health and who better to target than children? Progressive beliefs were getting into schools and such views were different than Christian views.

The 1912 election saw three candidates with similar Progressive agenda. William Taft would be the Republican running for re-election. Theodore Roosevelt came back into politics and ran as a third party candidate in the Bull Moose Progressive Party. The Democrat would be Woodrow Wilson. TR took votes from Taft and enabled Wilson to win the presidency in 1912. Wilson was well educated with a doctorate from Johns Hopkins. He'd eventually be the president of Princeton and governor of New Jersey. In 1889, he wrote The State, a book that took a strangely Darwinism view of government. He advocated a middle ground between individuals and socialism.

Wilsonian Progressivism:

Ideas of income tax and banking reform were already being discussed when Wilson took office. The 16th amendment allowing an income tax was already being ratified by states. Banking reform took place as advocates wanted a central bank that could provide cash when there were isolated bank runs. The Federal Reserve Act in 1913 set up the Federal Reserve System, which had 12 Federal Reserve banks across the nation (diminished NYC's clout) with each being a corporation owned by commercial banks in its region and funded by their required deposits. In return, member banks could borrow from the Reserve bank in their region. District banks would rescue failing private banks. Regions could help each other if they had to. A separate board of governors in D.C. had representatives from each bank to set policy, but in reality each Reserve bank went its own way. There would be a Chairman of the Federal Reserve. This new "Fed" appeared to be independent of the government and non-partisan. Federal Reserve notes replaced money backed by gold and silver. The Federal Reserve controls the supply of money and interest rates.

The income tax (16th amendment) came into use under Wilson, another pillar of Progressives. It was also a long-time goal of socialists as a means of redistributing wealth and was one of the 10 planks desired by the Communist Party in Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. There was an income tax a few times in history. There was a 3% tax on incomes over $800 in the Civil War. Utopian socialists had called repeatedly for an income tax. Populists and Democrats favored it in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1894, Congress passed a 2% income tax on incomes over $4,000 within a year. The Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Amendment the Constitution (16th) would make it constitutional. The tariff and land sales provided revenue to run the government for several decades, which was adequate as long as the government stayed small. Tariffs had political baggage since it pitted groups against each other - a rise in the tariff in one area would help one area and hurt another. Therefore, the tariff debate focused on specific groups. Income tax was easier on Congress, since it originally only affected the wealthy. It wasn't heavily resisted since it originally was low and easy to file. In reality, the income tax was a Progressive way to get reform and had little to do with revenue.

The Wilson agenda favored big government and was seen in other legislation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was a new agency set up to review and investigate business practices. The Clayton Anti-Trust Act set up new regulations on businesses including not allowing the producer of a product to sale a desired product attached to another product the buyer didn't particularly want. Both targeted big business and trusts, but like taxes the burden fell on an unintended group rather than the group targeted. A study of anti-trust actions against large firms coincided with business downturns. Both increased the power and size of the government.

South of the Border:

Wilson's policy in the situation in Mexico would give a glimpse of Wilson's Progressivism abroad. In 1910, Mexico entered a period of constant chaos when Porforio Diaz, the dictator for 33 years, was overthrown by Francisco Madero, who himself was unseated within 3 years by General Victoriano Huerta, who promised a favorable climate for American businesses. However, the U.S. had little interest in Mexico's internal affairs. Taft was going to recognize Huerta, but his forces killed Madero and Taft wouldn't recognize the government of a butcher. Wilson came in and openly supported Venustiano Carranza and Francisco (Pancho) Villa, two rebel generals. In April of 1914, Mexican officer in Tampico arrested American sailors from the U.S.S. Dolphin when they disturbed the public peace on shore leave. Naval officers protested and the sailors were released, but Mexico didn't apologize sufficiently to please the admiral. Wilson saw an opportunity and dispatched a fleet to Vera Cruz, supposedly to intercept a German ship delivering munitions to Huerta's army. Control was lost when American warships shelled the city. Carranza saw an opportunity but knew an alliance with Wilson would hurt his regime in the eyes of the Mexican people, so he continued to buy weapons from the U.S. but kept his distance. Fighting weakened Huerta and Carranza took over in August of 1914 and then gave the cold shoulder to Wilson who offered to help him form the new government. Wilson turned to Villa, whose army held much of northern Mexico and gained notoriety among U.S. journalists and filmmakers as the personification of the "new democrat." Carranza and government troops defeated Villa in April 1915. In frustration, Wilson had to recognize Carranza, which outraged Villa, who conducted revenge raids on American across the Mexican-American border. Wilson sent General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing after Villa. Hunting Villa across 300 miles of desert, let Pershing to inform Wilson that the test course of action was to occupy northern Mexico. Carranza didn't like Villa, but felt he couldn't let the U.S. just come in and his forces clashed with Pershing in June of 1916. The public's attention was on the war in Europe, so he didn't want to go to war with Mexico. Wilson agreed to an international commission to negotiate a settlement and U.S. troops came back home. Wilson had committed troops without assurance of achieving their mission and without public support. He didn't really try other ways to secure the border and turned Mexico from a natural ally to a wary neighbor, and he was insisting on having an American style democracy in a primitive country without occupation (Mexico didn't fully develop property rights or concepts of government). Wilson learned though that if he would send forces into foreign land again, it would be for a major offense.

He Kept Us Out of War:

On September 29, 1913 Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria signed a treaty of peace, which they saw as the future in Europe, but a wave of war mobilizations were uncontrollable. Mistrust was growing among the powers in Europe. There were four major reasons. Imperialism existed in which nations competed for colonies. Nationalism, or extreme pride or devotion to one's country saw more competition in Europe. Militarism was increasing the armies and navies in Europe. This mistrust led to two defensive alliances: the Triple Entente (Britain, France, Russia) and the Triple Alliance (German, Austria-Hungary, Italy). The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand triggered the Great War when a Serbian nationalist (Gavrilo Princip - said to be part of Serbian secret society, the Black Hand, a terror group) shot him. With Germany's support (called the German Blank Check), Austria-Hungary moved to retaliate at which time Serbia invoked a secret agreement with Russia, who mobilized and prompted reaction by Germany leading to a counter-reaction by France and in turn brought in Britain. Germany's Schlieffen Plan demanded that Germany not wait for a full-scale Russian mobilization before striking and on August 3, 1914 German forces crossed Belgium's border and the Great War was started. The Allied Powers (Britain, France, Russia) vs. Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire).

Wilson said to be "neutral in fact as well as name," while TR argued that the U.S. should take the position of a "just man armed" and TR was upset with Wilson's reluctance to stand up against the wrongs Belgium suffered. Experts mistakenly predicted a quick end to the war. Germans used poison gas and introduced the flamethrower for the first time. As a result, tactics had to change. The Allied Powers staged massive invasions that failed and lost 48,000 men without any gains. The battles were showing that machine guns, trenches, barbed wire, and long-range artillery made mass infantry charges useless. Trench warfare became main way of fighting as soldiers fought in deep ditches with conditions such as shell shock and trench foot (when the foot rots due to cold dampness of the trench. The land in between the trenches was called no-man's land. Airplanes also changed tactics and flying aces would be those who were extremely accurate, with Germany's Baron Manfred von Richtofen the most famous. Belligerent nations learned that modern wars with modern technology was much for destructive and expensive. Germany had misjudged two aspects. One was that they thought British colonies (mostly Ireland) would rise up and rebel and two that the U.S. could be tied into war with Mexico. Neither happened. Germans also had U-boats, submarines, to try to stop trade with England and the U.S. This proved effective but mistake prone since U-boat captains had trouble establishing colors of flags on ships through periscopes, especially when the British flew neutral flags and used Q-ships, or ships disguised as merchant ships and fired on U-boats when they surfaced. A German blunder took place when they sank the Lusitania in 1915, which killed 1,198 including 128 Americans. Even though the Germans warned that the ship would be sunk, Americans were outraged. Public opinion was shifting toward the Allies as seen in newspapers: the New York Herald called the sinking a "wholesale murder" and the New York Times compared the Germans to "savages drunk with blood."

If the U.S. got involved after the Lusitania sinking there was justification and certainly the war would've been shortened and also would've been spared the overthrow of the Russian Czar and the formation of Communist Russia under Vladimir Lenin, a mass murderer who led the Red October Revolution. Instead, Wilson got pledges from Germany - Arabic Pledge agreed not to sink large passenger ships, but when they sunk the Sussex, the Germans agreed to the Sussex Pledge to surface and fire a warning shot (which is where British Q-ships became effective). A German admiral told the Kaiser the only way to shut down the transatlantic trade would be unrestricted use of the U-boats. In his 1916 re-election bid, Wilson campaigned on the slogan "He kept us out of war" and defeated Charles Evans Hughes (R) 277-254 in the electoral college but with a popular vote by about half a million. Wilson had support from anti-war groups and was also endorsed by the Socialists. However, German U-boat attacks increased and the Central Powers had momentum as there seemed to be little risk of offending the U.S. especially since Wilson showed that he wasn't a man of action. Wilson tried to mediate a peace and suggested an international league of nations to keep peace, but offended and irritated both sides when he said the U.S. was "too proud to fight." Germany saw that Russia was on the verge of collapse and that France wouldn't be able to hold much longer either. If Germany seriously thought the U.S. would enter the war, they may have negotiated, but Wilson didn't go to war when he was justified (after the sinking of the Lusitania), so Germany hardened rather than softened, which led them to make two critical errors. First, they publically announced a new policy of unrestricted submarine warfare to begin Feb. 1, 1917 in the war zone as all vessels would be sunk without warning to stop all trade with the Allies. Second was the Zimmerman Telegram, a coded message sent by German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to the Carranza government urging Mexico to declare war on the U.S. and in return Germany would recognize their reconquest of the American Southwest. U.S. agents in London decoded it adn sent it to D.C. and it got to the public. Wilson issued an order authorizing the arming of merchant ships, a symbolic act without substance and after more sinkings asked Congress to declare war. Being an idealist, he went on to say that the U.S. would "make the world safe for democracy."

Flexing Democracy's Muscle:

The Wilson Administration wanted to convince the public that the other side was brutal and ruthless. An all-out propaganda offensive depicting the Germans in posters as the Hun (apelike, fanged creatures wearing spiked helmets carrying off women). Names of Germanic products changed - hamburgers became liberty sandwiches, sauerkraut became liberty cabbage, Berlin, Iowa became Lincoln, Iowa, Hamburg Ave. in Brooklyn became Wilson Ave., German measles became liberty measles, a German shepherd dog became the Alsatian shepherd. George Creel, a Denver journalist, supported the effort with the Committee on Public Information, which provided posters and distributed war literature. He also encouraged citizens to report any antiwar behavior to the Justice Department and encouraged a group of "reporters" to monitor their coverage of the war. Edward Bernays was another key figure in Wilson's propaganda machine. German-Americans became objects of suspicion and sometimes violence and the distrust spread to all immigrants. The Espionage Act (1917) made it illegal to give aid to the enemy, tried to incite insubordination, disloyalty, or refusal of duty, or circulated false statements with intent to interfere with the war effort. The Sedition Act (1918) made it illegal to say, write, or print anything "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive" about the government, Constitution, or military. There were more than 1,000 convictions including Eugene V. Debs who urged men to refuse to serve. In Schenck v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld the laws. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said "free speech wouldn't protect a man for falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic," setting the clear and present danger rule in limiting free speech. With the law mandating support for the war, Wilson looked to revenue. The Federal Reserve sold bonds called "liberty bonds" and the income tax rates skyrocketed (though it was discovered later that revenues collected from the rich plummeted with each rate increase).

Treasury Secretary William McAdoo organized the War Finance Corporation (WFC) to facilitate the conversion of civilian production - like Ford - into factories turning out war goods. The problem at first was that companies made too much of some parts and there were no priorities set as the government lacked strategy on what to buy and in what order. This fostered some profiteering (later will be called "merchants of death"), but in most cases the lack of direction caused redundancies and inefficiency. McAdoo figured it out in 1918 and handed the job over to Bernard Baruch and the new War Industries Board (WIB). Baruch was a South Carolina millionaire and Wall Street tycoon. Since he came from the business sector and was not a government bureaucrat, he saw that government lacked a business approach. He took the Civil War approach of encouraging private enterprise to provide war goods and permitted industrialists to charge high prices and got the Justice Department to call off antitrust investigations, while at the same time chastising any company that didn't comply with the WIB. He said "no steel, copper, cement, rubber, or other basic materials could be used without approval." He increased production by 20%. Others who were important included Herbert Hoover, who headed the Food Administration saying "food will win the war" and encouraged "victory gardens" and Harry Garfield headed the fuel administration introducing daylight savings time to conserve energy. Women took part in factory work as men went to war. The Great Migration was the northward movement of over 400,000 blacks from the South to the North after northern recruiting agents went to find factory and mill workers.

The U.S. also had to raise an effective ground force, which only numbered around 200,000 (to compare, the war combatants lost more than that at the four day Somme offensive). There were few with experience. TR offered to raise a regiment, but Wilson politely refused. The Selective Service Act put in the draft, which was pushed through Congress by Wilson and Secretary of War Newton Baker. Britain and France feared that the loss of the Atlantic would happen before the U.S. arrived. Admiral William S. Sims saw U-boats sinking more ships than the Allies were building so he helped design the convoy system, which had ships travel together forcing U-boats to reveal themselves and couldn't easily escape. This cut monthly shipping losses from 900,000 tons to 400,000 tones. The navy ensured that the Germans wouldn't win at sea. The U.S.'s First Infantry Division left for France in July of 1917 and was met by General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, who lacked oratory skills so setn Colonel Charles Stanton to speak and gave the famous phrase "Lafayette, we are here." Pershing gained fame in the Spanish-American War at San Juan Hill. He understood that he couldn't allow U.S. troops to be put in French or British lines as reinforcements or for frontal assaults. He pushed for solely American units. World War I saw the first use of airplanes in combat. America's famous flying ace was Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker. The Germans were being pushed and the U-boats weren't working. Also, the new weapon - tanks - were showing that trench warfare was already ending. The arrival of the U.S. kept the Allies from collapse. U.S. troops were moved to the Meuse-Argonne forest along a broad, massive front (on the Western front). The Meuse-Argonne Offensive (part of the major battle - Second Battle of the Marne) was successful due to Americans and it broke the Germans. Kaiser Wilhelm II saw his cousin Czar Nicholas II in Russia killed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks (Communists) and so he abdicated the throne and a republic formed in Germany and would agree to unconditional surrender November 11, 1918 (celebrated as Armistice Day, but today is Veterans' Day). There were very high death numbers: 1.8 million Germans, 1.7 million Russians, 1.4 million French, 1.3 million Austrian, 947,000 British, 112,432 U.S.

Red Son Rising:

In Russia, in October 1917 Vladimir Lenin and a small group of radically committed communists (Bolsheviks) took over Russia by force gaining control of key communication centers and the legislature. Estimates put Lenin's support at about 20,000 (in a nation of 160 million). The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended the war on the eastern front. Few Europeans or Americans saw a problem with Communist Russia since the nation was rich in resources. Some U.S. elites, or intellectuals (educated Americans who see things through philosophy or ideology rather than practicality or reality) believed the same thing should come to America. However, a large number (of these elites) lacked firsthand evidence of Lenin's (and later Stalin's) actual brutality. The Communist movement in America couldn't cover up its activities. In April 1919, NYC postal clerks found 20 package bombs addressed to public officials and caught all but two - one exploded at the Attorney-General's house killing a delivery man and the other at a senator's home shattering the arm of a maid. Outraged citizens supported immediate action in what some historians label the Red Scare, or fear of the spread of communism in the U.S. The Justice Department launched raids on suspected communists authorized by Attorney General Mitchell Palmer (Palmer Raids), which were directed by his assistant J. Edgar Hoover. The Communist Party in the U.S. was smashed. Lawyers claiming that the raids damaged civil liberties forced Palmer to resign, but not before reducing the U.S. Communist Party and its allies in the U.S. by 80%. The trial of two anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, convicted of robbery and murder took place after the war. Supporters and opponents of them mischaracterized them as communists. They were in fact anarchists. The case showed the government's position on radicals and they were executed on solid evidence, while attempts to portray the trial as rigged didn't stand up. The case did form a bond between communists and liberal sympathizers that would resurface in the 1930s during the Great Depression.

Versailles and the Fourteen Points:

The Fourteen Points was Wilson's plan for peace and the postwar world. It was put together by a panel of 150 academic experts under the direction of Wilson's advisor Colonel Edward House. The first four points were open diplomacy - no secret treaties; "open covenants openly arrived at," which fixes the prewar problem of secret alliances, freedom of the seas, free trade, arms reduction, and the fifth a review of colonial policies to have justice for colonized people. Eight more points were on territorial claims including France getting back Alsace and Lorraine, recovery of Russian and Italian territory, Poland being put back on the map, and the Ottoman Empire broken into nations by ethnic minorities - "self-determination of peoples." The 14th point was one that Wilson treasured the most, which was the formation of the League of Nations, a postwar international peacekeeping organization. Wilson announced and continued to add points during the final months of the war giving the Germans the impression that the basis of an armistice was negotiable and so the Germans and Austrians agreed to what they thought Wilson offered - the Fourteen Points. Britain and France didn't sign off on the Fourteen Points and wanted to punish the Central Powers and therefore ended up with a treaty that was harsh on Germany. The Fourteen Points had focused on territorial claims of the Central Powers, but excused Britain and France from their own desire for territory and dominance. The Treaty of Versailles, which was the treaty that came out of the conference between the Big Four - Woodrow Wilson (U.S.), David Lloyd George (Britain), Georges Clemenceau (France), and Vittorio Orlando (Italy), was signed in June 1919 and was very harsh on Germany. The Germans had to accept guilt for the war, reduce its military, lose its colonies, be occupied for 15 years, and pay large reparations. Within 10 years, the treaty's provisions would accelerate Germany's economy into chaos and European unemployment would aid the rise of Fascist dictators in Europe.

Back home, Wilson found a skeptical Senate (the Senate must approve of treaties a President brings). Both chambers of Congress were won by Republicans in the 1918 midterm elections. Opposition to the treaty was led by Henry Cabot Lodge who didn't like how the League of Nations could involve the U.S. in conflicts, but mostly he was against it being too open ended. The Progressive wing also opposed. Robert La Follette, Hiram Johnson, and William Borah had voted against going to war to begin with rejected any postwar involvement in Europe. Other disagreements were over the League being able to commit the U.S. into conflicts. Lodge rejected the formation of new nations based on ethnicity pointing to French Quebec and the American Southwest. However, Lodge only controlled 49 Senate votes (Democrats held 47 seats), which was only a slim lead. This meant that some could've been swayed to vote with Wilson if he stayed and negotiated with the Senate. However, he went on a whistle-stop tour around the country to get support for the treaty. Wilson was already in poor health having suffered a stroke in Paris in April 1919, but kept it from the public. He suffered another stroke in September and then a third in October, which kept him debilitated and bedridden and out of touch with the American people. Edith Wilson ran the duties of the president without the public knowing. She determined what he wanted and said through notes. He had meetings with staff and members of Congress at times that he was able, but lacked energy to fight for the treaty. The treaty was defeated by the Senate. Wilson was out of office when the U.S. finalized treaties with the Central Powers. The U.S. never did join the League of Nations.

Progressive Fervor and the Real Thing:

Prohibition was the push against alcohol. It began with the attack on Coca-Cola, one of the first products challenged by the new FDA that formed out of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. Coke had eliminated ever the smallest portions of cocaine 10 years before the law. Coke was started by John Pemberton and a northern advertiser, Frank Robinson, to create a cold drink that could be served over ice in the South to compete with hot coffee and tea. Asa Griggs Candler took over when Pemberton fell ill. He used a tiny portion of cocaine, which through the process of cooking and distilling was ultimately removed. The case agaisnt Coke was led by Dr. Harvey Wiley, whose effort to get Coke didn't work, but Progressive reformers saw that they could win against products with proven health risks. Temperance had a long history. Maine banned alcohol in 1851; Lincoln had temperance on his campaign platform; there had been various groups pushing temperance. It all seemed necessary for the women's movement to keep from abuse and keep family wages from going to the saloon keeper. Alcohol was being linked to prostitution and prostitution to an epidemic of certain diseases, and the saloon was seen as the hotbed of prostitution. The Anti-Saloon League and Women's Christian Temperance Union pushed local laws to limit or ban alcohol an it spread to some states. Carry Nation was one of the most outspoken for prohibition carrying an ax and a Bible. Modern liberal historians get in a quandary over the issue - they like the use of federal power over individual choice, or social engineering, but it runs counter to their unwillingness to pursue any policies based on morals or values. When Prohibition failed (repealed by the 21st amendment), many liberal progressive historians labeled it as a work of Christian evangelists and Populists. The 18th Amendment was Prohibition, which needed widespread support from many groups (amending the Constitution is difficult and needs widespread support since 3/4 of the states must ratify a proposed amendment for it to become part of the Constitution). One specific group isn't able to amend the Constitution alone. The law banned the manufacture, sales, or transport of intoxicating liquors (any with more than 0.5% alcohol). One claim is that it led to organized crime and Al Capone, but the issue is debatable. The Volstead Act put the new Prohibition Bureau in the Treasury Department (should've been part of the Justice Department) and "revenuers" broke up illegal stills and crashed into "speakeasies" (illegal saloons) and when there was no other evidence, it charged mobsters with tax evasion, which is what brought put Al Capone behind bars.

The reform impulse formed various groups looking for government action for their cause and included an anti-tuberculosis league in 1897, American Conference for the Prevention of Infant Mortality in 1909, National Mental Hygiene Committee in 1909, National Society for the Prevention of Blindness in 1915 and several others. The founding of the American Eugenics Society in 1923 by biologist Charles Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, and Luther Burbank is more disturbing. Eugenics is the study of race and how a master race could be created. Indiana and California already mandated sterilization of confirmed "criminals, idiots, rapists, and imbeciles" whose condition was views as "incurable" based on the recommendation of three physicians. All of these groups and especially eugenics shows the Progressive view that all disease and imperfection of any kind could be "reformed" through human action. As with most reforms, Prohibition was started by upper class women with the target being lower-class men, which was viewed as morally weaker.

Suffering for Suffrage:

Voting rights for women - another Progressive plank - also had a long history. The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 called for the Declaration of Independence to be applied to both genders. Elizabeth Cady Stanton began the National Woman Suffrage Association after the Civil War that pushed for a constitutional amendment for female suffrage. The group later alienated some women who just wanted the right to vote since others added new goals of birth control and easier divorce laws. The Wyoming Territory gave voting rights to women in 1869 and it was allowed in their state constitution. In 1916, Montana elected Jeannette Pickering Rankin to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives making her the first woman. Women who were leaders in the movement include Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Carry Chapman Catt. The 19th Amendment was introduced in 1919 by Congress, which would give women the right to vote. States ratified it in 1920. One of the impacts over the years has been a rise in the size of government since politicians were now promising new programs to women as well as men.

Voting rights may have come sooner, but Margaret Sanger and other activists associated feminism with birth control and eugenics. Sanger's mother died of tuberculosis and instead of blaming the disease, she blamed the vigors of child birth. Difficulty with her own delivery convinced her of the dangers of the birth process and problems of poverty that she associated with large families. She quickly fell in with New York radicals and met all of the important socialists including Eugene V. Debs, "Big Bill" Haywood, Clarence Darrow, Will Durant, and Upton Sinclair. She published a paper, The Woman Rebel, that favored controls on procreation of those she deemed unfit, including Jews and Italians. She denounced marriage as a "degenerate institution" and endorsed political assassinations (smearing a person, not murder). She fled to England to avoid arrest for violating laws that prohibited the transmission of pornography or other obscene materials through the mail. In England, she absorbed the already discredited overpopulation ideas of Malthus and suddenly found a way to tie birth control in with concern for population pressures. She labeled her new idea as family planning, but in reality she associated birth control with population control, particularly among the "unfit," as she said the most merciful thing a large family could do to a new baby was kill it. She attacked charities as enabling the lower class of society to escape natural selection. She believed that birth control and sterilization could be used to weed out the poor (and, she noted, blacks and Chinese, who she likened to a "plague"). She viewed birth control as a means of "weeding out the unfit," aiming at the "creation of a superman." She published pro-eugenics articles in the Birth Control Review. She gave a favorable book review of Lothrop Stoddard's The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy (1923), a book that became a model for Fascist eugenics in Europe claiming that black children were "destined to become a burden to themselves, to their family, and ultimately the nation," which revealed Sanger as a full-fledged racist. She began the American Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood.


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